The Game Developers Conference for 2009 is just underway, and already there’s some big news which has particular relevance for that rare and frustrated breed, the Mac gamer. I’m a Mac gamer myself, and have pretty much given up the OS X side of things and […]


The Game Developers Conference for 2009 is just underway, and already there’s some big news which has particular relevance for that rare and frustrated breed, the Mac gamer.

I’m a Mac gamer myself, and have pretty much given up the OS X side of things and just decided to do all my gaming in a Windows Boot Camp partition. My days of option-booting may be drawing to a close, however, thanks to a new venture that could make gaming a lot more democratic, much to the dismay of hardware manufacturers.

The service in question is called OnLive, and it will basically offer game streaming to whatever machine you happen to have. You can either get it via a very small set-top unit that attaches directly to your TV, or through a desktop software client. That’s when the magic happens. OnLive uses server farms to do all of the heavy lifting for your computer, so that your resources aren’t important. That means my Eee PC can handle Crysis, though I would never actually use that tiny machine for gaming. More importantly, my MacBook and my Mac mini can both handle Crysis without breaking a sweat. Which means I’m belatedly glad that I didn’t spring for that MacBook Pro or Mac Pro desktop.

I can hear your concerns, because mine were the same. This sounds too good to be true, right? Won’t it suffer by being only a marginal company, lacking support? No and no. Kotaku and Time have both actually tried out OnLive, and found it far from lacking. In fact, both reported impressive results. Apparently, OnLive avoids lag using patented video compression and compensation algorithms that result in a very smooth, extremely playable gaming experience, despite the fact that it’s actually content streaming from the cloud.

And do they have support? Oh boy, do they. Check out this quote from Kotaku’s coverage:

The best part? It already has serious buy-in from major publishers, including EA, THQ, Codemasters, Ubisoft, Atari, Warner Bros., Take-Two, and Epic Games. Oh, and 2D Boy.

So publishers are behind it, but considering the threat it represents to both console (the set-top peripheral costs less than a Wii) and PC gaming manufacturers, you can bet that a lot of hardware folks will be dead set against it. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of defense they can mount.

OnLive is set to launch late in the year, with an external beta planned for summer. It’ll probably be a subscription-based service when it does launch, so some might object to not actually owning any games, but considering the rate at which I grow bored of most, it seems like the perfect set up for me. I see a future where I’m playing Mass Effect 2 on the highest graphics setting without so much as a hiccup on my Mac mini. Please help make this a dream come true, OnLive.

  1. Very interesting.

    I REALLY don’t buy it that there aren’t any lag issues. I’d also like to see if the video compression ruins the visuals of HD games.

    I just hate not owning my games. If you’ve put a lot of money into the service but they go belly-up, you’re screwed. Now you have to buy all your games again. It’s the best type of DRM (for publishers) because consumers never actually have the product in their hands.

    It’s such a neat idea and if they pull it off well (I am a huge skeptic) I will definitely give the service a try. I’m still primarily a console and Mac (whatever games are ported) gamer, though.

  2. Yeah, I seriously doubt it too. Won’t believe until I’ve seen it myself. Just won’t buy it that they can stream action packed HD quality (or better) graphics to my home without me noticing any lag.

    Perhaps for some kind of games, where the graphics aren’t that complex and a little lag not an issue.

  3. Ubisoft Exec Thinks Apple Has Gaming Platform in Mind Friday, May 29, 2009

    [...] there.” The CEO made the statement after discussing the gaming potential of set-top boxes, OnLive’s remote gaming system being the most highly publicized such device in recent [...]

  4. What if OnLive Came to the iPhone? Monday, November 16, 2009

    [...] OnLive made a lot of noise when it first appeared on the scene way back in March at the Game Developer’s Conference of 2009. It’s a service that’s said to be able to make a gaming machine out of any computer that can run the latest browsers, which would effectively end the madness that is PC gaming hardware upgrades. And now, it looks like it might be able to work on the iPhone, too. [...]

  5. Nice review. Thanks for sharing.

  6. james braselton Tuesday, June 29, 2010

    hi there hope it campatable with comacast fiber optic modem at 105 mb/s the reasion i need a fast conection is i found out the guniss book of record saying the fastest halo player did halo in 96 minutes soo i need go from 3 houres too 90 minutes and yes i am going the fastest macbook pro with the optional 512 gb solid state flash drive with the fastest cpu and ssd i need 100% speed of the computer and fast fiber optics soo there wont be any delay even for nano seconds the 512 gb ssd will cost $1,400 upgrade for gunuiss book of record halo game for mac halo i wounder if it is even possable too finish halo in 90 minutes flat there wont even be a cycle left of cpu

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